Driving down to Irvine this morning -- about a 50 mile commute. Been a busy couple weeks, working 60 hours plus commute time -- fortunately next week looks quiet, because we all need that in my family ...
On the way down to Irvine I blew out my front left tire. Doing about 70 mph in the leftmost lane, heard not one but two distinct rifle crack bangs, and abruptly the car was pulling left really hard. Fortunately I've driven over half a million miles and I knew what to do -- while I still had some air left in the tire I drifted right across 5 lanes to get onto the side of the road. Called Triple A -- the best single investment you can make if you own a car -- and half an hour later they had a tow truck there to put on my spare and get me on my way.
Spent most of that time standing by the side of the road, about 10 feet back in a convenient spot of shade, watching people get off the freeway. At one point eight passenger cars went by, in a row, with eight women in identical postures: right hand on the top of the steering wheel, left hand up to the left ear.
So I started counting. (I count trains, too -- to this day the largest number I've ever counted was as a teenager, 153 cars, while sitting at a crossing on the way to Kaiser Permanente with a shattered eardrum.) While I was waiting for the tow truck, 313 cars (passenger cars, vans, SUVs -- non-commercial) and 38 trucks went by me on that offramp. I don't know how many of the truck drivers were on the job versus passenger, but I included all vehicles with a flatbed in the truck count.
140 of the 313 passenger cars had someone on the cell phone as they pulled onto that offramp. Two of the 38 trucks did. I didn't keep exact counts of the gender split, but women were far likelier to be on the phone than men.
A recent study shows that talking on your cell phone impairs your ability to operate a vehicle about as much as being drunk.
The other day I was driving down the 101 freeway and on one of the big signs they had the blinking message: "Call 911 to report drunk drivers."
Now ... our society is run by the clinically insane, that's true: but this has to be intentional. Some malicious yokel at CalTrans thought to himself, "I wonder how many people I can kill before they catch me?"
One drunk-who-should-be-horsewhipped gets on the freeway. An alert but foolish soul catches sight of him ... and gets on the cell phone to alert 911. While she's doing this, I'm going with "she" here because I counted this morning, two more alert Good Citizens are noticing her abruptly swerving around the road, bouncing over the Botts dots, endangering the lives and paint jobs of those around her ... so, having just seen the Sign of Doom, they get on 911: "There's a dangerous drunk on the road! And she's tailing another dangerous drunk!" And those two start staggering around the road while making their call, and pretty soon everyone within two miles is inundating 911 all at once, chattering away about the danger they're alertly observing, when the first drunk looks up at his rear view mirror and sees a shark's pack of hundreds of swerving maniacal drunks bearing down on him, and panics and stomps on the brakes, causing the biggest pileup in American history ... and some socipath at Caltrans sits there, watching the cameras, counting: 150, 151, 152, 153 ... 154! Screw Moran! Ha ha haaaaa......
Let's be careful out there. Lay off the cell phones and don't let Caltrans kill you.